This is a true story of a biological male who lived through much adversity since birth. His quest to fit into society because of his gender non-conformity made life a struggle, but interesting. Take a journey with this author, from sandy coasts to rugged mountains.
This is definitely not the typical autobiography that recounts only accomplishments; this true story has much self-reflection, with as much honesty as a publisher will allow. This autobiography will sound as though it's fiction at times, but don't be fooled! All is real and raw.
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My own 'self-disclosure'
I am on a very similar tangent in my own life as a gender fluid male. Clinton's journey is beautifully depicted by challenges to which he has overcome, his growth is inspiring to me. I can't find the words to describe how much this book has helped me, coming to terms with my own gender.
- Mx. Quinne
So much unrealized potential.
It pains me to give a low review of this book because, as a gender-nonconforming person myself, I want to see more personal stories that contribute to the narrative. The public is largely introduced to the narrative of "I was a boy/girl who knew at an early age that I was really a girl/boy in the 'wrong body.'" What then follows is usually a life story filled with gender dysphoria and then the eventual realization of authenticity through presentation, hormones, surgery, and so forth. When I read the title of this book I was excited to hear from the experiences of someone who identified as bi-gender and learn what that meant for them.
Unfortunately, by the time I was done I could only think of the quote from Billy Madison about a "rambling, incoherent response." The book itself is a meandering, aimless stroll through various life events that are never fully connected to the overarching narrative. Or, rather, what the author presumably intended to be the overarching narrative about their experience thus far as a bi-gender individual. There are a lot of details about places they lived, the classes they taught, a few insights into their love life, and the places they traveled. This book might have been great if it had been intended to be a travelogue of Nevada and Montana but, sadly, it falls short as a contribution to the trans and gender-nonconforming narratives. The thing that's truly frustrating is you can tell there IS a story there to tell. All too often, however, the author ends the chapter JUST as the real story starts.
For example, there is one brief vignette about a time they performed in drag. For someone who is gender-nonconforming, you might imagine this would be a big event in their life. We get a lot of details about getting to the show and the location plus a few comments about their performance but nothing about their inner experience. There is little said about their emotions, their thoughts, the mix of fear and exhilaration that might come from such a huge moment in a person's life. The author's account of this evening reaches the climactic moment in which they have a wardrobe malfunction - the kind in which a person might find their experience culminating in a make-or-break moment that informs their journey. The author describes being on stage and mentions the crucial mishap and then..........
The story is dropped and it's off to the next chapter. What happened after that? How did they react? How did they feel? Did this prove to be a setback or a moment of great resilience? The result is a story that isn't even a case of all sizzle and no steak because any sizzle is vague details in some area and exhaustive details in others about locations and room layouts but nothing much about the author's life itself. Unfortunately, there is very little insight in the book about their lived or internal experience about being bi-gender. What does that mean to them? Among the host of gender-nonconforming identities, "bi-gender" could mean non-binary, genderfluid, demigender, and others. How do they feel about their identity and how it places them in the world? Aside from some incidences of discrimination, how have their life experiences contributed to their growth? How did they come to conclude that they were bi-gender? What struggles have they had to embrace that identity?
None of these kinds of rich details are shared in this memoir. All we really get is a rambling report on places they lived and traveled with a few meager samplings of how their sexuality and gender identity have informed and affected their life. It is only in the last two minutes of the book that we get any kind of real connection to the author's experiences and hopes. Had they started out with the last few sentences of the book as their mission statement rather than their conclusion, it might have been a decidedly powerful book.
The audiobook isn't helped any by the choice of narrator. The book is read in a consistently peppy tone that varies very little in inflection. There is no change in the delivery to emphasize moments of sadness or gravitas or lightness for levity. It's ALL lightness and makes the book feel as if you are being read a children's book during story time. It's not exactly the most painful narration I've ever experienced in an audiobook but it certainly dragged the experience down even further.
To summarize, I think this book was written with good intentions but no real focus on those intentions. It's a short read and some folks may glean snippets of inspiration or ideas from it but it falls far, far short of its potential. In reading it, I got the sense that there was a real story there. Unfortunately, the author does not deliver on that story but merely hints at it. This results in a disappointing work that leaves so much untouched and unexplored in their experience as a person who identifies as bi-gender. And that's a shame, because it seems as if there is a story there that needs to be added to the body of works for trans and gender-nonconforming people to show that there is no singular narrative and that each story is unique.
Perhaps in time the author will do a new book with more depth, breadth, and polish and give us the story they presumably set out to tell with this memoir.